With a small line of code, the iPhone 4S is now apparently a "4G" device. For some time Apple had held off on insisting their device supported "4G," going so far as to knock other competitors for doing so
. With a wave of their hand however, yesterday's iOS 5.1 update changed the status indicator on the AT&T version of the 4S to indicate the phone now magically supports "4G.
" Apple's of course bending to AT&T's marketing desires that their HSPA network gets called 4G, something The Verge
got Apple to admit AT&T wanted this change:
"AT&T has rolled out a nationwide HSPA+ network, and they refer to this high-speed network as 4G," a spokesperson told us. "With iOS 5.1, iPhone 4S will now see this reflected in the status bar." Compare that to the company's own marketing materials for the new iPad, which refer to HSPA+ as being among "the fastest 3G networks." Why the difference? The 4G LTE iPad itself offers the answer: there's no need to maintain the fiction of HSPA+ 4G when there's a real 4G network to sell instead. Still, AT&T's Seth Bloom is adamant that the iPhone 4S's new labeling is "essentially the same as many other current AT&T smartphones."
The funny part (like Apple above) is companies that complained about calling older technology "4G" then turn right around and do it themselves. For example, AT&T got bent out of shape
when T-Mobile claimed their
HSPA was "4G," then proceeded to do the same thing. It's all water under the bridge, since consumers have been incredibly confused ever since the ITU bent to the whims of marketing departments and declared pretty much everything but carrier pigeon
to be 4G. Nonsensical 4G marketing is all the rage, with at least three carriers now claiming they operate the nation's largest 4G network